Pretty Ugly

“If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I don’t know what y’all would do to him in Iowa but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous — er, treasonous, in my opinion.

Governor Rick Perry of Texas, speaking about Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s efforts to prevent deflation

When I think about Texans “treating someone ugly,” what leaps to my mind is lynching.  Even so conservative a group as the Texas Historical Association is unable to whitewash the truth of white Texan oppression and brutalization of the Mexican Americans (“Tejanos”) and African Americans throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

To be heading into a Presidential election year with this kind of hateful invective being thrown around, especially in a contest where a Black man is involved, is truly frightening.

We who are watching the slow-motion political lynching of Barack Obama unfold cannot afford to be silent bystanders.

The Rick Perrys of our country are treating our President “pretty ugly” every single day.

Although I share many progressives’ disappointment with Obama’s reluctance to call out these ugly folks and fight fire with fire, I recognize the bind he’s in, and I cannot stand by silently while he’s symbolically dragged through the mud (as happened to the victim of one of the most recent Texas lynchings, Brandon McClelland, in 2008).

I’ve spent a lot of time this past month wishing I could just move to Canada and be done with the ugliness here in the U.S.

But this is my country, at least for now, and I must do my best to make it a better place, a country I can be proud of.

My ancestors left Russia, Poland and Germany in the 19th century precisely because of the kind of slimy and dangerous hatred that we heard come out of Governor Perry’s mouth this week.  They believed they would find a more welcoming and ethical society here in shadow of the Lady of Liberty.

Of course, America they knew in the early 20th century had terrible problems of racism, elitism and sexism. People fought for change throughout the 20th century, and they won big victories.

We can’t let the clocks be turned back now.  We must fight on, now more than ever!

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